Tuesday, October 6, 2009
From The Grand Lodge of Virginia Herald, Fall 2009: Do Good Unto All by Shelby L. Chandler:
Do Good unto All
Bro. Shelby L. Chandler
JW, Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4
Members of Fredericksburg No. 4 and Prince Hall No. 61
Freemasonry is that universal Brotherhood which has endured the test of time for over 400 years and yet it is still, and will continue to be, on trial for the Ages. Understand that there will always be those out there who will believe us to be the blanket that threatens to envelop the world. They are studying us to find that one strand to pull that will eventually unravel the Masonic tapestry that they fear or despise. With that being said, what are we as Freemasons doing to set the record straight about this Craft of ours? How many members of this great Fraternity are actually taking the time to raise up their working tools in order to “build that temple within themselves”?
Outside of Virginia, there is a Masonic Lodge that is in the middle of a heated battle against what I consider “Indirect Racism”, for not only is bigotry subtly being practiced, it is also inappropriately being justified as one of the Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry. Generally, the actions within the Jurisdiction of every Grand Lodge are their own. However, when charges are preferred upon a Worshipful Master and his Lodge because they raised a “non-white” man to the degree of Master Mason, using as justification for the charges the…”usurpation of the constitution, laws, ancient landmarks, customs and traditions of…Masons”—this challenges the very foundation and core of our “Ancient Landmarks & Customs of Freemasonry”. At that point, this spills beyond their Grand Jurisdiction and right onto the lap of every Brother who has ever been raised and is in good standing.
The Constitution of Masonry reports, “Whence it follows that all Masons are to be good men and true—men of honor and honesty, by whatever religious names or persuasions distinguished; always following that golden precept, of "doing unto all men as (upon a change of conditions) they would that all men should do unto them. “ Understanding this, we recognize the importance of both true virtues and a clear respect for our fellow man in as much as we would wish this reciprocated. Worldwide, we as Freemasons suffer hatreds and prejudices by those who from their uninformed and closed-minded disposition would destroy the character of our beloved Craft; that being said, why would we wish to direct this fate upon any other of the human race?
As Masons, we must keep a constant check of ourselves to be sure that we are living our lives in the manner that brings honor to the Craft. We are not Brothers so that we can save one another from minor infractions of the law, or to broker a better deal for ourselves in business, or even to save one another from our own foolishness or stupidity. We are Brothers because we hold each other to the highest of standards and we understand that the life we live in this world is a difficult but rewarding one. Bigotry and Freemasonry are polar opposites of each other and ardent adversaries when faced with one another and never should one be practiced with the other.
We are the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God. In a time when morality is declining within our society, there are so few good and honorable men in this world that one can rely upon; it is a shameful thing that there are those who would deny themselves and others the opportunity to know the experience and soul of another human being just because of the shell that we are destined to wear in this imperfect world. But I guarantee you that when we lay down our working tools, my Brother’s ashlar will fit as perfectly as mine when placed in that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
As for that maligned Lodge mentioned above, all Masonic charges have been dropped. However, there is still a grassroots movement by other Lodges in their Grand Jurisdiction to petition to have the Charter of that Lodge removed as punishment for raising a Brother of “non-white” descent. But this is not only their burden; every Grand Jurisdiction faces this issue. Even in Virginia, Most Worshipful Jeffery E. Hodges wrote a letter with the following statement:
With regard to organizations that are anti-semantic, racist or antisocial in their doctrine and avocation, such as but not limited to, the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, etc., the following will be the policy of the Grand Lodge of Virginia: it is not acceptable to present information on, display association with, or solicit involvement in such organizations in a Masonic Lodge holden under the Grand Lodge of Virginia. At no time, should such organizations be linked to our gentle Craft.
I personally believe this to mean that, in addition to the ban on organization linkages, Virginia Masonry should regard the qualities and virtues of a Freemason as incompatible with the immoral behavior affirmed by such groups. Brethren, we all have our own problems and challenges of life, but we need to keep working to chip away at our own rough ashlars to make them perfect. The imperfections of our individuality are acceptable only because we are still utilizing our working tools to that end to accomplish and overcome. To act in denial or to refuse to change or improve ourselves and accept a life of hate is truly against the Ancient Landmarks and Customs of Freemasonry, and we should always check ourselves and take a good look at the edifice that we are building within.
Brethren, there will always be someone willing to unravel this beautiful tapestry that we know as Freemasonry. Let us not help them find that strand, but more especially let us not allow one of our own to unravel that tapestry from the seams within. Let us remember to do good unto all; recommend it more especially to the household of the faithful.
I promise you Brethren, the Great Architect of the Universe will remember.
Gate City II is an Atlanta Masonic Lodge. We are Free and Accepted Masons working under the jurisdiction of The Grand Lodge of Georgia. We meet at the Atlanta Masonic Center (formerly The Atlanta Masonic Temple) 1690 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA 30309